One chilly day last fall when our family was in that purgatory-like state between diagnosis and actually snagging an OT appointment, my home phone rang. This is significant because I only receive calls on my residential number from telemarketers, my mother and… my kids’ schools.
I swallowed hard looking at the caller ID. Nausea arrived as the name and number of my 5-year-old son’s preschool flashed before me. The voice on the other end announced a difficult day and my need to come retrieve him as soon as possible.
I can’t even recall the specifics of his transgressions that day; however, etched into my mind is the splotchy-faced little boy who hunched over in the backseat of my minivan and sobbed into the sleeve of his shirt as he declared that God had made a mistake. He was the wrong boy and he demanded to be someone else.
My heart ached (as did my husband’s) as our fashion-unconscious, charismatic son had become increasingly somber, pessimistic, physically aggressive and just down right unpleasant. At this point in our sensory journey, he was becoming very aware of how his behavior was “different” from his friends’ behavior. Sitting on the floor of our family room with him curled up in my lap, I searched my mind and my heart for an explanation both age-appropriate and reassuring to his self-image.
On that day, I told him the story of his “sensory superpowers.” We talked about how his system feels and experiences things in extremes…. sometimes too much and sometimes not enough. …continue reading
My son’s meltdowns have been particularly spectacular the last few days. I’m not sure what is triggering him. It might be because we’ve been trapped in the house for days on end because of the weather. It might be because he hasn’t been to playschool in a long time because of illness (first the teacher’s and then his). It might be because he’d been doing so well lately that I’ve begun to expect more from him and my expectations have outpaced his abilities. It could be all of these things. It could be none of these things. I’ll likely never know.
What I do know is that yesterday afternoon, we had a great time. No meltdowns. Lots of cooperation. Happy boy. What did we do differently? No, strike that – what did I do differently yesterday afternoon? (Let’s be honest, the adults are the ones in these situations with the ability to change their behaviours and actions. Our kids are running on auto-pilot with very little impulse control.)
For starters, I turned off the computer to make sure that he didn’t languish in the basement all day, watching YouTube videos of Hot Wheel commercials from 1972. He will happily spend the entire day in the basement, TV on and YouTube on at the same time, while playing with his trains or cars. Sensory seeker much? Ha!
Next, I planned out stuff for us to do together. These were the mundane tasks of a stay-at-home-mom that I was going to do anyway – empty and reload the dishwasher, fold laundry, put away the toys, and vacuuming – but I gently forced him to help. Vacuuming is a great heavy work task. If it weren’t so much work to clear the living room floor of all those toys, I might do it more often! I also decided to spend some time doing a “craft” with him. …continue reading